Grout vs Tile Adhesive: What’s the Difference?

Close Up Of A Builder Tiler Sitting In A Bathtub 2022 03 04 02 14 27 Utc

What is the difference between grout vs tile adhesive?

  1. Purpose
  2. Types

If you’ve ever had a room tiled, then you might have come across the terms “grout” and “tile adhesive.” You might also know that these materials are used to place your tiles on the wall or floor.

However, one of the most common queries we get is: “what is the difference between grout vs tile adhesive?” The answer to that is simple, and we get into the differences in this article — keep reading to learn what they are!

What is the difference between grout vs tile adhesive?

What is the difference between grout vs tile adhesive?

These two terms are often mistaken for one another, so let’s get into how they fulfill two completely different steps in the tiling process: 


Tile adhesive, also known as mortar, is used as the first step to applying new tiles. Tile adhesive is essentially the glue that helps the tiles stick in place. It is used not only when installing tiles, but also when repairing cracked or loose pieces. 

Grout on the other hand is a cement-based material. We use this to fill the space in between each piece of tile. This helps us create a clean and finished look for the newly laid tiles. Plus, it also acts as a preventative measure against bacteria, germs, and mold buildup! 

With grout, you can create a wide range of colors, which means you can match it to your tiles to create a uniform look, or use other colors to create contrast. Sealants can also be applied to the grout. 

Types of Tile Adhesive

There are many different types of tile adhesive that you can use, such as:

  • Thinset mortar

One of the most common types is a cement-based adhesive that comes in powdered form. When mixed, it creates a smooth and sticky adhesive that can create a strong bond between the tile and the surface. It can also have excellent heat- and water resistance, which makes it a good choice for areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. It is, however, prone to cracking. 

  • Tile mastic

Comes in pre-mixed tubs, and is similar to water-based acrylic glue. This tile adhesive is ideal for dry areas and is very simple to use and easy to clean up. It also has a long shelf-life, so it can be stored in bulk for longer than other adhesives. However, it is not suitable for glass tiles. 

  • Epoxy mortar

The strongest tile adhesive you can find. It is resin-based and sets very quickly once applied, creating a strong bond between tile and the surface. It is waterproof, and chemical- and grease-resistant, making it the best choice for industrial settings. 

Types of Grout

Like tile adhesive, grout also comes in many forms, including:

  • Sanded grout

This is a mortar compound that contains fine sand. This increases its durability. Sanded grout is commonly used for filling in wide spaces between tiles. It is most ideal for materials such as stone, marble, and granite tiles. 

  • Unsanded grout

As the name suggests, this is a mortar compound without any sand, though other materials can be mixed into it. It is often used to create thin grout lines. It is easy to apply and is the preferred grout for laying wall tiles. 

  • Epoxy grout

Similar to epoxy tile adhesive, epoxy mortar is the most durable option available. And, it has the same great properties: waterproofing and chemical- and grease-resistance. This makes it the best grout for areas such as industrial floors, bathrooms, showers, and the like. It is also the preferred grout for ceramic, porcelain, and vitrified glass tiles.

Key Takeaway

As we covered, the difference between tile adhesive vs grout is what they’re used for. They cover two separate steps of the tile-laying process! 

Interested in the materials we mentioned above? We can help! Flooring solutions is a professional epoxy flooring service provider, and we specialize in working with hard-wearing materials for commercial and industrial projects. Contact us here to receive more information, request a quote, or book your appointment.